Work starts on landmark new affordable homes in Maiden Newton

The scheme, which will see 14 new homes built in the village at Neil’s View, is the brainchild of the Upper Frome Valley Community Land Trust, set up by residents to oversee the provision of affordable homes and other community assets in the local area.

The £1.45 million project delivered for the land trust by development company Aster Homes, will feature four one-bedroom flats, four two-bedroom bungalows and six two- and three-bedroom houses. The scheme, which is also being supported by West Dorset District Council, has attracted funding from the Homes and Communities Agency, which has invested more than £580,000 in the project.

Work on the new homes got under way with a specially-arranged turf cutting ceremony which saw members of the Trust donning their hard hats to dig the first footings.

Neville Higman, chair of the land trust, said: “Our members are delighted to see the building of the remainder of Neil’s View now becoming a reality, creating properties that are affordable for people with a local connection to the village. We are grateful to Jean and Steve Marsh for making the project possible through providing the land, which now becomes a community-owned asset for all time. The land trust will now work to ensure that everyone with a local connection who is interested in living in these new properties is on the local housing register.”

Fiona Astin, Aster Homes regional development director, said: “Buying a property or even renting one privately in a rural location like Maiden Newton can be very expensive. It’s often out of the reach of people who’ve lived locally all their lives, so making sure the village has high-quality affordable homes is absolutely vital.

“We have a strong track record of working with Community Land Trusts, particularly in Dorset, to help them provide the affordable homes they need. We’re delighted to have started work on this scheme and we’re looking forward to continuing working with the Upper Frome Valley Community Land Trust as the project progresses.”

West Dorset District Council leader Cllr Robert Gould said: “We are extremely happy that work has started on site at Neil’s View.

“We always try to work with residents and housing associations to help provide much needed affordable housing which will help to ensure the sustainability of local communities.

“This is a very exciting project and is a fantastic example of community-led development.”

Twelve of the homes will be for affordable rent, with the remaining two for shared ownership. They will be managed on the Trust’s behalf by Aster Homes’ sister company Synergy Housing.

The development will meet Level Three of the Code for Sustainable Homes, the system for measuring the environmental performance of new housing. Sustainable features will include air source heat pumps, which collect air from the atmosphere to heat the homes.

Work on the new homes is due to be completed in March 2015.